March 4, 2009
CAROL MARIN email@example.com
Who knew at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday that an earthquake was about to hit Chicago's Northwest Side?
Not Mike Quigley.
He was standing alone on the corner of Cornelia and Southport grasping a handful of campaign fliers. Fifteen minutes before the polls would close, he was giving one last pitch to Brown Line commuters who hadn't yet voted in the three-party, 23-person primary for Rahm Emanuel's 5th Congressional District seat.
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Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin
Not the richest candidate, Quigley didn't have the cash state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz had raised.
A nemesis of regular Democrats, Quigley didn't have powerful ward bosses in his corner the way state Rep. John Fritchey did.
In a district the Machine has controlled since 1958 -- except for two aberrant years -- with congressmen named Rostenkowski, Blagojevich and Emanuel, the 5th was the ultimate insider's seat.
What exactly did an outsider like Quigley have that would change that?
After a presidential campaign that captured our imagination and vaulted a black man from Illinois onto the global stage, in just one short, miserable month this state went back to being the corruption capital of the Western world.
Our governor had been grabbed by the FBI.
Our new U.S. senator, appointed by the recently grabbed governor, couldn't tell a straight story about how he got the job.
And every single day, the economy in Cook County -- home of the highest sales tax in the nation -- was tanking.
Though his opponents -- some of them -- tried to paint Quigley as an un-reformer, the small number of voters who turned out Tuesday were highly educated on the issues. And they knew that in a large -- and largely talented -- crew of candidates, Quigley, as a commissioner on the Cook County Board, had been one of the lone voices raised in opposition to the patronage-clogged, outrageously inefficient government run by Board President Todd Stroger. And that Stroger had been the candidate handed to us by party bosses.
Yes, this was just the primary . . . and now Quigley must face Republican Rosanna Pulido and the Green Party's Matthew Reichel on April 7.
And yes, if Quigley wins again next month, the same ward bosses he humiliated in this election will still get to pick his County Board replacement.
But they would be wise to tremble just a little.
Because the earth beneath their feet just moved.